ELK RIVER, Minn. (July 13, 2013) — On Saturday, July 13, more than 70 Grange Youth members took part in the exemplification of the first four degrees of the Grange at the Oliver H. Kelley Farm.
The historic presentation was seen by more than 400 attendees gathered for the outdoor event.
Cast members wore period dress for the exemplification.
“Our young people really took to heart their role in bringing to life a piece of our history and conferring to the audience the base values of our Order,” National Grange President Ed Luttrell said after the event.
The eight degrees – four each for men and four each for women – spanned more than five hours.
“In 1873, those joining the Grange would take each degree separately,” Luttrell said. “It could take four or more months to become a full member. Between each degree, candidates were expected to talk about what they learned and reflect on how it applied to their lives and morals.”
Today, new members of both genders are obligated in a shortened version that offers the lessons of all four degrees in one presentation that takes less than one hour.
“As times change, so has the Grange’s presentation style, but the lessons reflecting on our bond with nature, being good stewards and citizens and working hard to build the best future are the same,” Luttrell said.
National Grange Youth Development Director Charlene Shupp Espenshade said the cast members from all across the country learned quite a bit from the experience.
“They got a sense of the lasting principles, but they also saw how dedicated the members of the Grange were in its first years and showed their own dedication by raising funds to participate and taking time to memorize their parts,” Espenshade said. “I think our members who attended the event know that our organization is in good hands with these young members who will soon be the leaders of our Order.”
During the event, attendees collected donations that would amount to $1,550 for the Kelley Farm preservation efforts.
The donation was presented to Kelley Farm officials by National Grange Board Member Joe Fryman and his wife, Tammy, of Nebraska.